James McNeill Whistler's etching needles

Contributed by The Hunterian

James McNeill Whistler's etching needles

These etching needles in the collection form part of the holding of James McNeill Whistler's artist's materials. Their shape is unusual, with the spiral twist in the centre, and they seem to have been custom-made for Whistler.

The American-born artist, James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was an artist. His most famous painting is the iconic Whistler's Mother (1871), but he was also a major figure in 19th century printmaking, creating over 460 etchings.

The curator asked members of staff in the Hunterian Museum to nominate their favourite object for the BBC's "A History of the World" website. This object was picked by Eileen Spiers, a member of the Front of House team. Eileen says "I picked these objects because it is fascinating to see the actual tools that Whistler used to create his wonderful etchings. I always feel that it is a great privilege to be given an insight into the creative process".

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